What are you chasing?

Stop chasing after the wrong things, learn to safeguard our time, and lean on small acts of gratitude.

Victor Saad

Founder

Welcome to issue No. 22 of Work Different — a weekly summary of the top articles focused on workplace culture and career development.

On Chasing the Wrong Things

As a society, we are making and spending more on pleasurable activities than ever before. But average happiness is decreasing amongst Americans. Now, in our tech-run society, we are promised possibilities of instant fame and fortune; anything our heart desires delivered right to our doors. But our happiness has not increased as a result of the comfort and ease that technology provides. Evidence has shown that media and technology use has negative psychological and physiological impacts. Arthur Brooks offers three principles to help us keep the modern forces of the market and technology from taking away our happiness. 1. Don’t buy that thing. Often, our purchasing decisions are driven by temporary pleasure more than utility. Things do not make us happy, meaningful relationships do. 2. Don’t put your faith in princes (or politicians). “Governments and politicians do affect our lives. But they cannot bring happiness.” Remember that your happiness does not hinge on the results of the upcoming presidential election. 3. Don’t trade love for anything. The happiest people may not be the richest, but they have “strong family ties, close friendships, and rich romantic lives.” The next time you decide to trade quality time with a loved one for busy work, think again. The Atlantic.

Image Credit above: Jan Buchczik

Credit: Ben White

On Safeguarding Your Time

In this age of constant distraction, safeguarding your time and attention is absolutely essential for doing your best work. Here are a few ways to keep your focus in today’s endlessly distracting world. 1. Burst working. We are lying to ourselves when we say that we’re highly productive throughout the day. Career advice company The Muse recommends working in bursts of time: switching between 52-minutes bursts of focused work sprinkled with 17-minutes short breaks. Try this out to see if it helps you direct your focus and attention. 2. Smart email responding. Similar to burst working, you can limit both the frequency and the time you spend on your inboxes. Try removing your email notifications and setting aside specific times in the day that you devote to email. 3. Embrace empty time. Time not working is not time wasted. Time spent on meditation, journaling, bike riding, and sleeping are essential for us to recharge our bodies and our brains. How we spend our time not working impacts how productive we are when we return to work. Fast Company.

On Acts of Gratitude 

With shorter days and surging Covid-19 cases leading to more shutdowns, you are probably dreading this winter. A solution might start with shifting your focus outward. Learn to develop “a healthy sense of proportion between your own self and the bigger picture of the world around you.” Here are some ways that might help you achieve this. 1. A sense of purpose. Having a clear purpose is one of the most effective ways to cope with isolation. Find a project that excites you and stick to it regularly. For me, it’s been learning to play the piano. 2. A sense of inspiration. “Regularly feeling gratitude helps protect us from stress and depression.” Engage in active acts of gratitude. Write a letter to a loved one. Do something nice for your neighbor or roommate. Small, regular acts of gratitude will help you reduce stress and focus on the positive aspects of life. Vox.

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Victor Saad

Founder

I’m an author, educator, and community builder living in Chicago. I started Experience Institute, an organization helping college students and career professionals learn and grow through short-term, real-world experiences.

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